What Are Cathinone Compounds?

What Are Cathinone Compounds?According to the Cornell Medical Center, cathinone compounds are beta-ketone amphetamine analogues that occur naturally and are found in the leaves of the Catha Edulis plant, also known as khat. Cathinone produces a stimulant effect similar to that of amphetamines. Khat is native to the Middle East, and its leaves are traditionally chewed in that region in order to achieve a stimulant effect. The practice has led to serious health and social concerns in that region.

Synthetic Cathinones

The khat plant is sometimes brought into the United States, usually by immigrants from the Middle East. However, it loses its potency very quickly after having been picked, so the stimulant effects of khat leaves that have been in storage for any amount of time are not nearly as pronounced as those in fresher leaves. In short, while khat leaf chewing does occur in some communities in the United States, it is not generally considered a major drug abuse problem.

A much greater problem exists in relation to synthetic cathinones that are derivatives of cathinone and relate to naturally occurring cathinone in much the same way that methamphetamine relates to amphetamines. A variety of cathinone derivatives have been synthesized and are used as the active ingredients in bath salts, the most common being methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone and pyrovalerone. Bath salts are among the latest “designer” drugs that have been produced in an effort to circumvent anti-drug laws in the search for a legal high.

The Dangers of Bath Salts Abuse

Synthetic cathinone compounds are structurally similar to amphetamines and MDMA. The effects on the user are also similar, so people who are attracted to stimulants such as cocaine, speed and crystal meth are also liable to abuse bath salts. The sought after effects include increased energy, sex drive, openness and empathy. Users typically become outgoing and talkative. However, there are also serious adverse effects of bath salts use, including hallucinations and other psychotic disturbances, neurological impairment and potentially fatal cardiac effects. Synthetic cathinone compounds are highly addictive, and mephedrone in particular has a high potential to cause overdose.

Despite their relative newness on the drug scene in the United States, bath salts have already been linked to a large number of emergency room visits, including some cases of fatal overdose. Furthermore, although synthetic cathinone compounds are chemically similar to traditional central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, such as cocaine and amphetamines, reports from emergency rooms indicate that sedatives that are normally used to treat the effects of stimulant overdose are ineffective in treating overdose resulting from synthetic cathinone.

Bath salts also typically contain other ingredients that may be highly toxic. Many bath salts preparations are known to contain chemicals that are used as herbicides and are poisonous to living tissue. Bath salts are intentionally marketed as “not for human consumption” in order to escape FDA regulation. Consequently, bath salts may legally contain any number or type of ingredients that are toxic to humans.

Treating Bath Salts Abuse and Addiction

Abusing bath salts is a very dangerous practice. Bath salts are highly addictive, and users may have a very hard time quitting. If you would like help finding treatment for bath salts abuse or addiction or you simply have questions about bath salts abuse, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline today.